Jun 6, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark (57) throws the ball in the 2nd inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Stan Liu-USA TODAY Sports
The last time the San Diego Padres faced Tanner Roark, they had never faced him before. Roark threw a 3-hit, 8-strikeout shutout against them that day. This time, they had no excuse.
The second-year pitcher for the Washington Nationals ran his scoreless streak against the Padres to 17 innings Friday night in the Nationals’ 6-0 win over the Padres.
This game was over 10 pitches into the game, long before most of the Beerfest crowd had found their seats. Padres’ starter Tyson Ross gave up a walk to Nationals’ lead-off hitter Denard Span. Ross threw to first several times to keep tabs on Span, who has 8 steals on the season. With Ross focused on Span, Anthony Rendon took advantage of a fat slider and drove it into the left field stands, giving the Nats a 2-0 lead.
With the way Roark was dealing, that was all they’d need.
Last time he faced the Padres, Roark retired the first 16 hitters he faced. Yonder Alonso made sure there was no threat of a perfect game this time with a well-hit one-out double in the second inning, but was stranded at second.
Ross and Roark turned the game into a pitcher’s duel for through five innings, and it appeared Ross’ first-inning transgression might end up being the difference in the game. After five innings, the score remained 2-0. Ross had struck out seven, Roark eight.
Ross looked very good in the fifth after allowing a leadoff triple to Danny Espinosa. He retired the next three hitters on a weak groundout, a strikeout, and a fly ball to left, stranding the runner at third.
The pitchers’ duel came to a quick end in the sixth. After Ryan Zimmerman reached on an error on a dribbler to Ross, Ross again seemed shaken with a man on first. He yanked a slider for a wild pitch, moving Zimmerman to second. Ross then walked Adam LaRoche, putting men on first and second. Wilson Ramos lined a double over Seth Smith’s head in right. Smith took a bad route to the ball, which he might have been able to reach otherwise. 3-0 Nationals.
Ross walked Ian Desmond on four pitches, bringing up Espinosa. On a 1-2 pitch, Ross hit Espinosa with a pitch, forcing home a run. 4-0.
When Ross remained in the game, it became apparent that Padres manager Buddy Black was more concerned about letting Ross learn to pitch through his struggles than he was about winning this particular game. When Nate McLouth followed with a 2-run single to make it 6-0, Ross’ night was over, and any hopes the Padres had of a comeback were effectively over. A six-run deficit against a guy who’s thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings against your team, allowing only four hits, is a big mountain to climb.
Too big, it seemed. Although Rene Rivera and Tommy Medica got hits against Roark in the eighth, Roark dominated the Padres hitters throughout the game. Roark finished with 11 strikeouts in 8 innings. Ross Detweiler pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the victory for Washington.